Do the Write Thing 4: Where Creativity and Community Meet

The Aster

The fourth gathering of Hollywood, Health & Society’s Do the Write Thing mixer event brought together a crowded room of industry guests and hopefuls to hear showrunners Janine Sherman Barrois of the limited Apple TV+ series The Big Cigar and Marqui Jackson of The CW shows All American and  All American: Homecoming talk about their experiences working in television.

They did not disappoint.

Moderated by Greg Braxton, a senior staff writer for the Los Angeles Times who has covered TV, culture and representation for four decades, the June 18 salon at the Aster in Hollywood cut right to the heart of the reason for the event: to shine a light on Hollywood through the experiences of seasoned professionals working to build a more diverse entertainment industry.

Both Barrois and Jackson got their professional start through studio mentorship programs for underrepresented writers—at Warner Bros. and Disney, respectively—and have built careers since then despite Hollywood’s longstanding barriers to people of color. Barrois was executive producer on the TNT series Claws, and her other credits include Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam CJ Walker, Criminal Minds, ER, Third Watch, Eddie Murphy’s The PJs, and The Jamie Foxx Show. Jackson has been a producer and writer on television shows such as House M.D., Rosewood and Ugly Betty.

The two showrunners said that the studio writing programs were critical in helping them get their start in the business, saying it offered them a path to be noticed by those who staff writers rooms.

“It was the only way to actually get from … delivering coffee, getting people’s laundry to somebody seeing your scripts [and] getting you on a show,” Barrois said.

Overall, Hollywood’s jobs picture remains bleak. A recent article in the Los Angeles Times reported that even though many expected a rebound in film and TV jobs coming out of the strikes in the fall, “employment in L.A. County’s motion pictures and sound recording industries — the main category for film and television production — has barely budged from about 100,000 through April, which is about 20% less than pre-pandemic levels.”



Janine Sherman Barrois

Showrunner and writer, “The big cigar”

Janine Sherman Barrois is an award-winning writer and showrunner currently working on the Apple TV+ series The Big Cigar, based on the true story of Black Panther Huey P. Newton’s escape from the FBI under the guise of a fake movie production. Previously, Sherman Barrois was an executive producer on all four seasons of Claws, the hit TNT dramedy, and was the showrunner for the first three seasons. In addition, she was the co-showrunner and executive producer of Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam CJ Walker, a Netflix limited series starring Oscar-winning actor Octavia Spencer, and was the creator of the OWN series The Kings of Napa, a drama about an influential family who runs one of the most prestigious Black-owned vineyards in the world. Sherman Barrois spent five years as an executive producer on the CBS hit series Criminal Minds, and prior to that she was an executive producer on ER, and spent five seasons on Third Watch, rising from story editor to co-executive producer. She has also written for Eddie Murphy’s The PJs, The Jamie Foxx Show, and Lush Life. She is a two-time NAACP Image Award winner and has been nominated for several other awards for television writing, including the prestigious Humanitas Prize.


Marqui Jackson

Executive producer & co-showrunner “All American” and “All American: Homecoming”

Marqui Jackson is the executive producer and co-showrunner of the Greg Berlanti-produced drama series All American and All American: Homecoming. He previously served as co-executive producer on the medical drama The Resident. His other TV producing credits include HouseMacGyver and Rosewood. Jackson’s love of television writing started while watching sitcoms as a kid in Forth Worth, Texas. He’s an alumni of the Disney Writing Fellowship and currently lives in Los Angeles.


Greg Braxton

senior staff writer for the Los Angeles Times

A lifelong Los Angeles resident, Greg Braxton has written for the Los Angeles Times for more than four decades. He is a member of the reporting team that won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. He currently writes for the Calendar section as the senior writer covering culture and representation, and he has interviewed major figures ranging from Sidney Poitier and Spike Lee to Roseanne Barr and Bryan Cranston. His key focus is on trends and cultural issues in the entertainment field.

Photos from our mixer